Jake Shields. Photo by Esther Lin/EliteXC.
Mixed martial arts will once again be featured on prime-time network television this Saturday night as EliteXC puts on their second show for the channel, entitled “Unfinished Business”. The show will emanate from the Stockton Arena in California and will be joint-broadcasted by CBS and Showtime.
The premise of the event’s name stems from a disappointing ending to the first bout between Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith on May 31st. After battling for two and a half rounds, Lawler inadvertently poked Smith in the eye in the third stanza. The ringside doctor ultimately ruled that Smith was unable to continue due to vision problems, despite protests from Smith himself to let the fight continue. However after the fight, Smith admitted that he would have likely been knocked out by Lawler because he couldn’t fully see out of his eye.
Now the two will battle it out again for Lawler’s EliteXC middleweight title, this time in the show’s featured attraction. Additional main card bouts include the second of three championship bouts as Jake Shields and BodogFight transfer Nick Thompson will fight for the EliteXC welterweight strap as well as hometown favorite Nick Diaz attempting to extend a two-fight winning streak against journeyman Thomas Denny.
What should we expect in the rematch? Essentially the same thing you saw last time. Both guys want to stand and bang, it’s no secret. Their first fight was a close one but the judge’s scorecards reportedly had Lawler ahead by at least one round. Smith’s face was bruised and battered going into the third round as well, compliments of Lawler’s patient striking, which is a far cry from the “go for broke” style that he employed early on his career while with the UFC.
If Lawler continues to show patience on the feet, he should be able to pick Smith apart once again. Smith had a tendency to be over-aggressive while standing up. It’s been well-documented that he does not want his fights to go the distance and once again, he’ll likely try to finish Lawler early and often by loading up. Another question mark going into this bout is Smith’s overall health. He’s claims that his eye has fully healed after two months, but Smith also suffered a broken foot the first time around as well.
He claims that he was able to start training again full-time after only a week, even using his broken foot, which has also apparently healed completely as well. While I have no doubt that Smith’s foot may be healed, there’s no way that it’s 100%, especially if he’s been training on it like he has. The wear and tear of twice-a-day workouts might become evident if this fight goes into the later rounds. Ultimately, Lawler should be able to prevent this one from going the distance, especially if he decides to exploit Smith’s biggest weakness and take the fight to the ground.
Prediction: Lawler (TKO, R3)
Here’s a fight that I’m really looking forward to. I’m a big fan of Shields’ technical style but a lot of people I’ve talked to really aren’t looking forward to seeing him fight again, even if it’s for a title. Thankfully for them at least, my gut tells me that Thompson should be able to bring a little bit more out of Shields than his last few opponents have. The fight will no doubt hit the ground and Thompson has always had a busy ground game so we’ll see what happens.
Thompson has improved immensely since his two-fight stint with the UFC and I’m looking forward to seeing how he’ll do against a guy that’s been highly regarded for some time now. This fight will no doubt have a decent-size effect on everyone’s top-ten rankings. A Shields win may vault him even farther up the charts while Thompson coming out victorious would probably keep Shields in the mix but would also give “The Goat” a spot in the bottom half of the welterweight list.
Nothing against the 170 lb. fighters that BodogFight had under their wing, but Thompson, even though he’s currently on a good run, hasn’t faced the type of competition that Shields has recently. Thompson’s win over Eddie Alvarez was impressive but I’m still picking Shields to come away with the win, he’s just too good right now.
Prediction: Shields (Sub, R2)
I know Diaz has seemed like he’s as overrated as they come recently, but this matchup against Denny is extremely in his favor. Diaz is better in every aspect of the game compared to Denny and he has enough experience against top guys under his belt that he’s not going to see anything that he hasn’t already. The only real chance that Denny has in this fight is catching Diaz in a slick submission on the ground, but there’s a better chance of Gary Shaw not wearing an Adidas track suit at this event than that happening.
You can easily see how this fight is part of the CBS-televised card as everyone either loves or hates Diaz and Denny’s fights are always exciting - I believe he’s only gone to a decision once or twice in his career. In the end though, this is a total mismatch. If Diaz needs one more win before he gets to rematch K.J Noons, he’ll get it in this one. Diaz by whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Let’s not forget about the million-dollar question too: Will Diaz make weight?
Prediction: Diaz (TKO, R2)
In the featured bout on the Showtime-broadcasted portion of the event, Eilers will step back into the spotlight for the first time in years when he battles Silva for the vacant EliteXC heavyweight belt. Eilers has traveled under the radar lately despite winning ten out of his last eleven bouts since his departure from the UFC. (His lone loss came to Pedro Rizzo last year) He was such an exciting fighter during his four fights with them that I’m surprised Joe Silva hasn’t given him a call lately regarding the status of his services.
To be honest, I like Eilers but he’s no match for Silva here, who should be able to put everyone else in EliteXC’s heavyweight division on notice with an impressive stoppage win. While Eilers has a punchers chance in this bout, Silva can easily use his size to pick Eilers, who hasn’t displayed the best stand-up defense in recent years, apart. Eilers ground game is pretty unknown, but with the unusually high-level of grappling skills displayed by Silva for his size, and Eilers’ will to go balls to the wall in fights, this one could end quick.
Prediction: Silva (TKO, R1)
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